Supermarket shelves are filled with a myriad of different cleaners that all promise quick and simple ways to remove spots and stains. Most of these contain strong chemicals that can pollute the environment and pose health hazards. Yet there are safe, natural alternatives that are just as effective without posing any threat to the environment or our health. So the next time your favourite woollen jumper has perspiration stains, there's ball point pen ink on a shirt, or there's a grease stain on the carpet, try the following solutions.
Beetroot stains should be treated when fresh. Stretch the fabric over a basin, sprinkle salt over the affected area and pour hot water through it. Rinse in cold water and wash as usual. Ball point pen can be removed from natural fibres by sponging or soaking in methylated spirits. On acetate fabrics use one part methylated spirits to two parts cold water, working from the outer edge to the centre of the stain over a thick absorbent pad. Change the position of the pad occasionally as it will absorb the stain. To remove blood, soak the garment in cold salt water when the stain is fresh, then wash in warm soapy water. Do not soak or wash in hot water as this will set the stain. Grease and oil stains can be removed from carpet by mixing sufficient water and kaolin (china clay - available from the chemist and pottery suppliers) to form a thick paste. Spread the paste over the soiled areas and leave it until completely dry - 24 to 36 hours. Reduce to a powder with a stiff broom, and then vacuum up.
A general, all-purpose stain remover for all carpets can be made by dissolving half a cup of pure soap flakes, or grated pure soap, in boiling water. Allow the mixture to cool, then whip until stiff. Apply to a small area at a time, allow to dry, then remove the residue and wipe with a damp cloth. When the carpet is almost dry, brush up the pile. Ink stains can be removed from carpet by immediately covering with salt. This will absorb the stain. When the salt has absorbed the ink, remove it by vacuuming or brushing with a stiff broom.
Mildew-affected garments can be treated by sponging with lemon juice and then placing in the sun until all the mildew spores are gone. Soiled nappies can be thoroughly cleaned by first pre soaking in 45 grams of bicarbonate of soda dissolved in warm water. Wash in hot soapy water and then dry. Perspiration stains can be removed from woollen jumpers by sponging the area with white vinegar, then washing in warm salty water. If the stains are old and stubborn apply a paste made from one tablespoon cream of tartar, three crushed aspirins and warm water.